VAST – Virtuous Cycle for Connection
It’s all about how we show up. If we show up in a way that invites people to connect, to trust, to feel safer than usual, they probably will. And astonishing results will follow. Michael and I have a vast experience of limiting our results because we didn’t dare to show up, speak up, stand up. We’ve been not daring, not trying, not challenging, most of our lives—like most people! We’ve learned the hard way how to show up in a way that enables connection, and impact.
We use the VAST cycle to increase connection to grow engagement in the workplace. We know safety and trust are important, but that is not the whole story. We need whole humans, intensely connected, to unleash the co-creation of astonishing results.
Joint post with Michael Sahota.
How to use VAST for Yourself
We use VAST as a way to navigate relationships. It works in personal and professional contexts.
Use VAST for introspection: In relation to another, we may ask ourselves:
- How trusting am I?
- How safe do I feel?
- How connected do I feel?
- How vulnerable am I choosing to be?
- Am I acting authentically?
With this new awareness, the model suggests a variety of moves:
- I can choose to be vulnerable and share how I feel. How I am feeling unsafe. How I am not trusting.
- I can choose to trust the other person and see how my behaviour shifts.
- I can state what I want. “I want to restart this conversation. I want to focus on how we can support each other. I want to focus on the goal.”
- I can ask for help.
In our experience, the most powerful move is vulnerability. Owning our experience and how we feel and then sharing it really kicks off the cycle. That’s what we mean by showing up.
VAST for Organizations
We use VAST to build awareness and choice for organizations. It is especially useful when contrasting with organisational debt (fear, mistrust) as a way of being.
A team, group, or organization may choose it as a future way of being. The cycle helps guide behaviour and create ideas for experiments.
We can use it in retrospectives, to collect narratives that demonstrate the behaviour we want. Acknowledge when someone was daring, inspiring us to move forward.
Run a Temenos lab to experience the cycle for yourself or with your team.
Origins of VAST
The VAST cycle is the result of a sense-making journey between Michael and I over the past years. We have been learning and studying its elements to help ourselves and our clients grow.
If you’ve followed my blog over the years, you’ll know that one of my first and major influences over the years have been Jim and Michele McCarthy, creator of the Core Protocols (part of my Culture Fitness Training) and Bootcamp. They’ve inspired and encouraged me to talk about and work with vulnerability, and even love, in a work context. They even wrote about the virtuous cycle of software recently, which I had not been aware of when Michael and I worked on this post. Thank you!
Pascal Pinck and Siraj Sirajuddin have introduced us to Temenos, which has been another core part of our learning journey where we discovered these insights.
The term “VAST” was created by Anton Gillis-Adelman – who is an expert in turning a jumble of letters into words.
- Brene Brown has taught us greatly on “The Power of Vulnerability” and the need for Authentic Connection.
- Our earlier work includes Deep Insights around Fear, Risk, Safety and Vulnerability and Vulnerability: Where Courage Meets Fear
- Temenos is an experiential workshop where we’ve learned how this works